The 2022 European Football Fans Congress (EFFC) will be hosted in Frankfurt from 21st July to 24th July by the Eintracht Frankfurt Fan Department. The EFFC takes place every other year and is the biggest gathering of active football fans on the continent, where they can engage with one another and the decisionmakers and major stakeholders of international football.
Ahead of the event, we spoke to Hennning Schwarz, CEO of the Eintracht Fan Department.
FSE: How did the opportunity arise for you to host the 2022 EFFC?
HS: Following the last EFFC in Lisbon, we were keen to host the next congress. Frankfurt is in the heart of Europe and relatively easy for everyone to reach. Moreover, we’ve massively benefited from our work with FSE during our seasons in the Europa League, so we wanted to give something back.
FSE: Why do you think it’s important to create a meeting place for football fans from different European countries?
HS: Every country, every league, and almost every club has dealt with the difficulties posed by the pandemic in different ways. We believe that all clubs need fans who are willing to both challenge them and work with them. More than anything, the past two years have proved that football cannot exist without fans.
FSE: What subjects do you think will be of particular interest to fans in the future?
HS: The threat of a European super league comes to mind, as well as anti-Semitism, other forms of discrimination, digitisation, ticket prices, and youth participation. Then there is the experience of being in the stadium, which varies wildly across the continent. This year, every Uefa club competition final was marked by chaos. The hosting conditions, which in some cases were life-threatening, caused a great deal of discussion about the importance of clear and enforceable standards. Basically, our focus is on the future of traditional clubs with organised fan scenes.
FSE: Is there any crossover between your day-to-day work and the objectives of the EFFC?
HS: There are a lot of similarities because the fan department has over 80,000 members. When traveling across Europe, we often encounter football cultures that treat fans in a completely different way. Although football gains meaning through its fans, they are often wrongly associated with a negative image, and we want to counter this.
FSE: Which fan-related topics are currently on Eintracht’s agenda?
HS: The main topics are the future of clubs with a history of tradition, the sporting integrity of competitions, affordable access to the experience of the stadium, and unrestricted expression of fan culture. We are also dealing with digitisation, where we have to pay close attention to the limits and possibilities.
FSE: What can participants expect from Frankfurt as a host city?
HS: Frankfurt is located in the heart of Europe. It is a welcoming, multicultural city. We are pleased to host the event so that we can showcase our beautiful home with all its different faces to fans from all over Europe.
Photograph, from left to right: Marc Francis, Henning Schwarz